Monday marked the beginning of training camp and Media Days across the NBA. For the Knicks’ big three of Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett, it signified a brand-new chapter, a chance to turn the page and begin anew in their quest for an NBA championship.
“I’ve seen the progression of teams each year, and I’m just excited to be back,” Barrett said. “With the experience we now have, the playoff run we had, just looking to build more on this season and then show and prove who we are.”
This offseason was an eventful one for Barrett, as the 23-year-old represented Canada in the FIBA World Cup. He averaged 16.8 points per game, shooting 52.6% from the field and 37.3% beyond the arc — both improvements from his 2022-23 NBA season average. The small forward led Canada to the Bronze Medal game, where he dropped 23 points on Team USA to take third place from his teammate, Brunson.
Brunson, representing the USA, did not share the same success as his teammate in the World Cup, averaging only 20 minutes a game, chipping in 11 points with a 50.8% mark from the field and 38.5% from downtown.
After Canada took the bronze medal from the United States, Barrett has enjoyed the spoils of victory, “I had a great time and a great experience. I got bragging rights in the locker room over here so I’m good.”
As for Randle, this offseason looked very different. Coming off ankle surgery this offseason, the power forward is still building up for the new year.
“This was definitely a different offseason for sure for me, from a physical standpoint,” Randle said. “It will be a different training camp for sure. But it’s exciting, I’m heading into my 10th year which is crazy.”
The Knicks will certainly need Randle at his best in the uber-competitive Eastern Conference. The two-time All-NBA talent will need to lead the Knicks from the front this year after averaging a career-high 25.1 points per game last season.
“I’m getting there,” he said. “It’s still a process, every day is a process getting better.”
As a whole, the Knicks come into the season with title dreams, yet remain on the outside looking in when it comes to the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. The Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday deals have made it clear that the East will run through the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, making the Knicks underdogs.
With their big three established, Brunson is looking forward to leading the team from the front and setting the tone for a successful season.
“I know one thing, whenever we’re on that court, it’s all about what we’re trying to do to win,” Brunson said. “Whatever the game is going to ask from us we’re going to try and do.”
2023-24 odds to win Eastern Conference
- Boston Celtics +180
- Milwaukee Bucks +180
- Philadelphia 76ers +750
- Cleveland Cavaliers +1000
- Miami Heat +1300
- New York Knicks +1800
Odds courtesy of DraftKings. For more, click here.